"Thank you for shopping at Food Barn," Courtney Davis smiled as she handed the old man at her register his change and receipt.
Before turning to the next customer in line, the thirty-eight year old brunette glanced up at the large clock on the wall, relieved to see that she only had only a few hours to go until her work day was over. Not that it was a bad job, Courtney often thought, she'd had ones that were worse. It just got monotonous after a while.
The way she saw it, aside from the people who actually ran the store, the people who worked at Food Barn, like most other supermarkets, fell into four categories.
First there were the students of course, who liked the non-demanding, at least mentally, work and the flexible hours that let them work around their classes. Then there were the housewives with kids now grown enough to be able to look after themselves, who needed extra money or just something to do other than sit alone in an empty house. Next came the retirees, also looking for something to do as well as a supplement to their pensions.
Finally, there was the last category, the one in which she fell in. People for whom this actually was their career. Which wasn't as bad as it sounded, Courtney reminded herself. While she would never be rich, she knew, her salary and the alimony checks from her ex-husband allowed her to live a comfortable, if ordinary life. Which, in the long run, was all she wanted.
Courtney had married Jim Davis, three years her senior, right out of high school. Finishing college, he'd gone on to medical school while she, putting aside her own plans, went off to work to support the two of them. It was a struggle at times, but they'd made it and by the time they celebrated their fifteenth anniversary, Jim had taken over the practice from the doctor he'd gone to work for after his internship. Their future seemed promising indeed, or so Courtney thought.
What happened next was something that Courtney had heard of, but never imagined happening to her. Now successful and moving in the circles he'd striven for, Jim decided that he needed a wife that could help advance, not hinder his career. Someone who would fit in with the wives of the doctors on the hospital board he was trying to join and discuss society matters, not the best way to get the bathroom clean.
For the first time in their marriage, Courtney had been glad that they'd been unable to have children. If Jim wanted out of their marriage, well then she was more than happy to let him go. After all, who wanted to stay in a loveless marriage. But, she told him, it was going to cost him.
He was wrong if he thought she was stupid simply because she hadn't gone to college. Finding the best lawyer she could, Courtney worked out exactly how much she'd contributed to his career over the years. If Jim wanted his freedom, he was going to have to pay her that back as well as give her a percentage of all future earnings. The monthly checks weren't enough to live on alone, but it gave her enough of a cushion that she would be comfortable.
Reluctantly, Jim agreed, with the stipulation of course that the alimony portion of the payments would end when she got remarried. A condition, to his surprise, Courtney agreed to. It was a stipulation, however, that hadn't worked out as Jim expected. He was sure that, in a year, two at most, Courtney would be remarried and he would be off the hook for at least the long-term aspect of his debt. But the year passed, then a second, followed by a third. Finally, he got the message. Courtney would never let any man control her life again. Oh she would have lovers of course, going so far as to live with a few for a time. But her ring finger would forevermore remain bare. Her life, she told him, however it went, would be on her terms.
Two more customers paid for their shopping orders and Courtney closed out her register to take her break. Rather than grab a cup of coffee in the small break room in the back of the store, she decided to get a breath of fresh air. Turning over the station to her relief, she headed out to the large parking lot.
Walking over to Coffee King, a small specialty coffee shop across the lot, Courtney decided to indulge herself and brought one of those overpriced special brews. She couldn't understand how people could spend that much money day in and out, but once and a while she gave in to temptation. A characteristic she applied to many things in her life.
"Hi Courtney," a young, soft voice from behind the display said as the counter girl recognized her customer. "What will it be today?"
"Hi back, Alicia," Courtney smiled as she looked up and quickly scanned the wall-mounted menu. "Why don't we try today's special," she answered, thinking that the chocolate concoction looked especially delicious.
"Good choice," the short haired blonde said as she rang up the order, "I think that's the best one they've come out with in a while."
Although not as frequent a customer as many people in the shopping center, Courtney came in often enough to know that Alicia wasn't the type to sell patrons on the product. Not that she probably couldn't if she wanted to, at least among the male population that walked through the doors to the store. With large breasts, a pretty face and a blouse perhaps just a size too small, the counter girl could recommend dishwater and some men would order it. Three open top buttons also usually guaranteed what change there was from their purchase usually wound up in her tip cup.
Using the labels she created for Food Barn, Courtney would put Alicia Young in the student category. From earlier conversations, she knew the twenty year old went to the local university and was studying to be a nurse. Seeing the medical books on the counter one day, Courtney had struck up a conversation and offered her some advice about watching out for doctors to be. Rather than be put off by the unsolicited advice, Alicia had thanked her for it and a casual friendship had developed.
Deciding she had time to sit and enjoyed her pricey beverage rather than rush back to work, Courtney sat at an empty booth in the back of the store. Scanning a newspaper someone had left behind, she didn't notice Alicia standing next to her until the last second.
"It was just about time for my break too," she said in way of explanation, "do you mind if I join you?"
In her hand was a duplicate of the drink that Courtney had just bought. Motioning to the empty seat across from her, the older woman invited the girl to sit down.
"I hope you at least get a discount on that," Courtney said as she remembered how much her own drink had cost.
"In this place," Alicia laughed, "are you kidding?"
"Well then, enjoy it," Courtney replied with a grin, knowing how much, or little, the girl probably made working here.
They spent the next ten minutes trading small talk, about school and work. As in their past chats, Courtney found she genuinely enjoyed talking to the blonde haired student. In many ways, she reminded her of herself at that age. The big difference, of course, that Alicia seemed smart enough to not let anyone else run her life for her. With no relatives closer than two states away and only a few friends at school, Alicia appreciated their talks as well.
"Well I better get back," Courtney said as she glanced at her watch. "It was nice talking with you again."
"Me too," Alicia agreed, but in a voice that made Courtney think she wanted to say something more.
An impression that made her hesitate long enough to give Alicia the time to do just that. Alicia hesitated for a few moments, then went on, her voice much lower than if had been.
"Courtney, can I ask you something?" she said.
"Of course," came the reply without hesitation.
"It's kind of personal," Alicia added, as if to give warning.
"Those are the most interesting kinds of questions," Courtney smiled, assuring the girl that she could ask anything.
Alicia hesitated again, taking the time to look around the sitting area and note that more people had sat down since she had joined Courtney.
"I'll walk you outside," Alicia finally said. "This is sort of private."
"Fine," Courtney agreed, her curiosity abounding.
Telling her co-worker behind the counter that she'd be right back, Alicia led Courtney out the side door to an area behind the store where they were unlikely to be seen or overheard. Even so, she took another look around the corner to make sure they were alone.
Curiosity was quickly giving way to concern as Courtney saw the extremes Alicia was going to. For some reason, she was suddenly reminded of the night when she was two years younger than Alicia and her best girlfriend in high school, Julie Moskowitz had confided to her that she'd let her boyfriend go all the way and was now in trouble. Taking a breath, Courtney hoped the girl across from her wasn't in a similar situation.
Not wanting to rush her, whatever the case, Courtney simply waited until the girl was ready to talk. If she were late getting back, well then her boss would get over it.
"Now that I finally get the chance, I don't exactly know how to ask this," Alicia said.
"I've found that straight out is usually the best way," Courtney offered, thinking also that this was obviously something Alicia had been considering for a long time.
"I'm worried that if I'm wrong you might take offense at what I wanted to ask," she added.
"Friends don't take offense," Courtney offered.
"Are we really friends?" Alicia asked.
"I like to think so," Courtney replied, relieved that whatever Alicia wanted to talk about, it didn't seem to be what she had originally feared.
"Are you a lesbian?" Alicia suddenly blurted out.
"What?" a totally shocked Courtney replied.
"Oh I didn't mean for that to come out like that," Alicia apologized, her face turning beet red. "I just thought that if I didn't get the words out I'd lose my nerve. I'm so sorry."
"Whatever made you ask a question like that?" Courtney asked, trying hard to keep her tone level enough to show she wasn't angry at the question.
"Well I overheard some of the other women from Food Barn make a few comments about you being a dyke, their words not mine," she quickly clarified.
"Putting aside the question itself," Courtney said, "I'll ask again what made you ask it."
"I feel so foolish," Alicia said instead of answering. "You must think I'm an idiot for listening to those women."
"I don't think you're an idiot, Alicia," Courtney said, "and as we settled a minute ago we're friends so I'd really like an answer."
"I think I might be a lesbian," Alicia finally answered, her voice dropping almost too low to be heard.
"Really?" Courtney responded after she let the words sink in. "And what makes you think that?"
Like a bursting dam, Alicia let it all come flowing out. That she'd been attracted to girls since she was in grade school, but never had anyone to talk to about it. She came from a small town with a very conservative family. It was hard enough to talk to her mother about boys, much less feelings that she never would've understood.
"So you've been attracted to boys too?" Courtney asked, picking up on that from her narration.
"Yes, that's what makes it all so confusing."
"Alicia, are you a virgin?" Courtney asked, thinking the question was not an inappropriate one under the circumstances.
"No, I'm not," Alicia admitted.
"How not a virgin are you?" Courtney went on.
"I don't understand," came Alicia's reply.
"What I mean is, has there been more than one time that you had sex," Courtney explained. "Has there been more than one boy that you've slept with?"
The reason for the questions, the brunette explained, was that she was curious if Alicia had enjoyed being with a boy, or could her thought that she might be gay be based on just a single bad experience.
"No, I've been with three boys," Alicia answered, the admissions coming easier now. "Actually two boys and a man," she specified, "and for the most part I enjoyed it."
Courtney wondered why Alicia felt the need to point out that one of her lovers had been someone older, the impression Courtney got by the way she phrased it. But that wasn't a question for now, she concluded.
"So despite enjoying sex with men, you're still attracted to women," Courtney concluded, "is that right?"
"Have you ever acted on that attraction?"
"No, I've always been too scared to," Alicia admitted.
"And that bothers you?"
"Which brings us back to your original question," Courtney said. "Why did you want to know if I was a lesbian?"
"I guess I thought that if you were, then you could help me," Alicia answered, again feeling a little foolish for even bringing the subject up.
"Help you in having someone to talk to, or something more?" Courtney asked further.
The long pause after that, coupled with the look on Alicia's face spoke volumes. The fact that Alicia had separated her lovers into boys and men now made sense. Her first two experiences had left her unsatisfied, as was usually the norm when a girl lost her virginity to someone who knew as little as or less about sex than she did. So to see if it was her, sex itself, or her partner, Alicia had sought out an older, and presumably more experienced lover. One that evidently made her conclude the latter was the case. Evidently, to discover if she was really attracted to women, Alicia was looking for a similar helping hand so to speak.
"Courtney, you're not going to tell anyone about this are you?" Alicia asked in response to the long silence. "I hope I haven't insulted you or..."
"Of course I'm not going to tell anyone," Courtney interjected, "but more importantly, you're overlooking one thing."
"What's that?" Alicia said confused.
"I never answered your question."
That realization finally dawned on Alicia as she looked at her friend. Not totally sure what Courtney meant by it, she decided to ask it again.
"Are you a lesbian?"
"No, I'm not," Courtney said.
"Oh," Alicia replied, an audible sense of disappointment in her voice.
"But I am, what I think you could be - bisexual," Courtney added.
"Oh!" Alicia repeated, this time with excitement replacing disappointment.
"And somehow, I get the impression that if the answer to your question was yes, you were also hoping that something might happen between the two of us," Courtney added. "Or am I wrong?"
"No, you're not wrong," Alicia admitted after a slight hesitation. "I hope you're not offended."
"I'm hardly offended, if anything, I should be flattered," Courtney assured her. "But I can't help but wonder, why me? I mean, in this day and age, and especially at a university, there has to be no shortage of young women who wouldn't jump at the chance to sleep with a pretty girl like you. Why look for an old lady like me?"
"I don't want to sleep with a girl, at least not my first time," Alicia quickly answered, "I want to sleep with a woman. And I don't think you're old at all, I think you're sexy and beautiful."
"I don't know what to say," Courtney said, really meaning it.
"Say yes," Alicia answered just as quickly, her voice almost pleading.
Courtney took a deep breath, then a second and third, giving herself time to think. She was getting old, she said to herself. Remembering how out of control she had been that first year after her marriage fell apart, as if she was suddenly a thirty-three year old virgin discovering sex for the first time.
In a way, she later realized, that was what actually happened. Especially when she discovered the excitement of Sapphic sex when one of her new neighbors seduced her. Not that she needed much in the way of seducing when she was eager to experience every new thrill.
Back then, she would've taken a desirable girl like Alicia on without a hesitant thought. In fact, before the conversation they'd been having had been halfway over, she'd have had Alicia down between her legs or herself down between hers.
And age was hardly a factor, she reminded herself. Not when just last summer she'd taken home a seventeen-year-old stock boy and fucked his brains out. Or more accurately, he fucked hers out. She'd heard one of the other boys who went to the same school make the comment that the awkward teen was hung like a porn star and it had been a delight to discover that the claim was true. There had also been that cashier the year before. Not that many years older than Alicia, Heather Nolen had undoubtedly been the cause of those dyke comments that Alicia had overheard.
"Courtney?" Alicia said, realizing that the older woman had been lost in thought for a few moments. "Courtney," she repeated.
"Oh, sorry," Courtney apologized, then turned her full attention back to Alicia. "Are you really sure about this?" she asked.
"Absolutely," she answered with conviction.
Courtney wished she had the same certainty. Nevertheless, she went forward hoping she was doing the right thing. She was honest enough to admit to herself that part of her was making the decision based on the wetness that had been developing between her legs these past few minutes and not the cold logic of reason.
"Okay, this is what we're going to do," Courtney said. "You get off at seven, right?"
Alicia nodded her head yes, almost afraid to say anything that might cause Courtney to change her mind.
"Well I finish up at six," the darker haired woman considered, also reminding herself that she was going to be very late getting back from her break. "So I'm going to give you my address and why don't you come over about eight, would that be all right?"
Again Alicia nodded yes.
"I'll order some take out for us, are you okay with Chinese?"
Finally vocalizing her answer, Alicia said Chinese would be fine.
"Remember, I'm not promising anything, we're just going to have dinner and talk about it. Take it slow and easy and see if this is something that we both want," Courtney said, trying to sound convincing.
"I understand," Alicia said, unable to keep from smiling.
"Good, I'll see you then," Courtney concluded.
She started to turn and head back to Food Barn, then hesitated. Glancing around to be sure they were still alone, Courtney leaned closer and to Alicia, gently kissed her on the lips. The kiss was brief, but sweet and filled with promise. She let her tongue press against the younger woman's lips, just hard enough to press them apart for a moment and make contact with its counterpart.
"Eight o'clock," she repeated and then quickly turned and hurried back to work.
Despite not looking back as she walked, Courtney couldn't get Alicia out of her head. Each time she dismissed her image, the younger woman instantly returned, wearing less clothes than before. Keep that up, she told herself as she neared the Food Barn, and you'll be jumping her the minute she walks in your door, dinner or no dinner.
Now thats an even more dangerous idea, Courtney further warned herself. More thoughts like that and she was going to need a change of panties even before the work day was over. Better to concentrate on an explanation that'll mollify her boss after coming back so late from break. The man lived by those time cards.
"I'll just tell him it was one of those female things," Courtney decided as she stepped inside, remembering that sort of talk always freaked out the life long bachelor. "After all, that isn't too far from the truth."
Sure enough, her explanation, along with the promise to make up the time, satisfied the store manager. The remaining few hours of Courtney's shift seemed to take forever, especially since it did prove impossible to keep her mind on her work. Thankfully, as she had said many times before, the job was pretty much a no-brainer, consisting of just making sure each item scanned correctly.
From her station, Courtney could see the Coffee King on the other side of the center through the large glass windows. Although she obviously couldn't see Alicia, the younger woman was never out of her thoughts. What was she thinking now, Courtney asked herself, now that they both had time to go over what each had said to the other. Did she regret what had to have be an impetuous decision? Courtney hoped not.
It had been some time since she'd been with another woman. Two years in fact, since her Food Barn Christmas party fling with Heather. There were only a few current workers that went that far back, so Courtney had a good idea who had been gossiping about her. Her prime suspect being Olivia Reeves over in Produce. Only two years younger than her, Courtney had been pretty sure that Olivia had plans for that well-endowed stock boy herself and felt that Courtney had stolen him from under her. That despite the fact that, unlike Courtney, Olivia was still married. Yet, after meeting Danny Reeves on more than once occasion, Courtney could almost feel sorry for Olivia. Almost being the key word as most other times she felt that the two of them deserved each other.
Comparing herself and Olivia, Courtney again wondered what Alicia would think of her if things worked out the way she thought they might. She had nothing against casual sex of course, it would be hypocritical to think otherwise. But she was nearly twice Alicia's age, she reminded herself and while she thought herself in good shape, she was what she was. A thirty-eight year old woman who no one was about to ask to pose for an adult magazine, not even one of those senior ones, she added with a grin. Still, she'd never had any complaints from any other lover, male or female. Most of whom appreciated the person she was inside, and not just the wrappings that came with it. Besides, she finally reassured herself, it was Alicia who had come to her, not the other way around.
The end of the day finally came and as Courtney walked to her car, she had to resist the urge to head over to the coffee shop instead. Better to just wait and let events take their course. She'd written her home and cell numbers on the paper she'd given Alicia, along with her address. If the girl changed her mind, she'd have ample opportunity to let her know before eight.
It was only a twenty-minute drive home to the four room, second floor apartment, which Courtney had lived in since getting the job at Food Barn. It was all she needed, comfortable and convenient. Plus it had its own outside entrance so that if she did have a guest, she also had a measure of privacy. The previous building she'd lived in had the nosiest neighbors she had ever met.
Stripping out of her work clothes, it didn't take long for Courtney to decide a shower was in order. It wasn't so much from the days work as much as an anticipation of Alicia's visit. Turning on the water and giving it a few minutes to get hot, Courtney took out a bottle of wine she'd been saving and put it on ice. Then she called the Chinese restaurant that she usually ordered from and placed her order. She hoped Alicia would like what she ordered and was told they'd be there in a half-hour. Just enough time to wash up, she concluded.
The hot water, mixed with her favorite soap, felt good against her skin as she washed, especially between her legs. Looking down at the thick bush, Courtney recalled that it had been some time since she'd trimmed it. Glancing at the small shower clock stuck to the wall, she still had time. A few minutes work with the small scissors from the vanity, then the safety razor from the medicine chest reduced her hairy cover to a thin layer, accenting rather then covering her mound.
Stepping out of the shower, she wiped the steam off the large mirror and took a good look at herself. Five foot six, she only weighed eight pounds more than the chart in her doctor's office said she should. She liked to think that she carried the extra weight well. Her breasts were still in good shape, the result of a determination to put off the effects of time as long as possible. They were at least a cup smaller than Alicia's, who she guessed had to be at least a D cup, but Courtney liked hers the way they were. Her nipples were the size of her pinky tip, surrounded by quarter sized circles, dark pink in color.
A few more minutes were spent on more necessary toiletries, then finally Courtney was satisfied. Wrapping a large towel around her, she stepped out into the living room on her way to the bedroom to dress. She'd gotten halfway there when the doorbell rang.
"Oh shit, the food's already here," she said as she looked down at her lack of clothing.
Buzzing the delivery boy up after checking that it was him on the intercom, she grabbed a few bills from her purse and headed for the door, planning to leave the chain in place and opening it just enough to pass him the money. She'd open the door all the way and get the food once he was back down the stairs. Any other day, she grinned, she might've opened the door and given him a treat. If he was really cute, she might've even let the towel drop, accidentally of course.
An event that almost actually happened when, after opening the door to pass the delivery boy the money, Courtney was faced not with the teenager she expected, but Alicia. In her hands were the white carton filled bags from the restaurant.
"I sorry if I'm early," Alicia said, "but I was so anxious I couldn't wait any longer. I told my supervisor I wasn't feeling well and left early. I hope you're not mad."
For the moment at least, Courtney was too stunned to say anything.
"I ran into the delivery boy downstairs and paid for dinner," Alicia went on, holding up the two bags of food. "Can I come in?"
"Of course," Courtney said through the crack as she closed the door just long enough to undo the chain.
"Oh I am too early," Alicia gasped as she saw that Courtney was wearing only a towel.
"It's okay, I only need a few minutes to throw something on," Courtney assured her.
"Well why don't you do that and I'll set out some plates for us," Alicia offered.
"That would be great," the older woman said as she headed for her bedroom. "I put some wine on ice earlier, I figured we could have it with the food."
"Don't worry, I'll take care of it," came Alicia's reply.
Courtney hadn't given any thought beforehand as to what she wanted to change into, but figured that after a towel, anything would be a step up. Grabbing a simple white blouse and dark slacks from the closet, she laid them on the bed while she pulled a bra and pair of panties from her top drawer. She got dressed in record time, taking only a few extra minutes to dry off her still damp hair. By the time she stepped back into the living room, the meal order was all laid out on the dinette, complete with wine glasses that Alicia had found in the kitchen cabinets.
"I can't remember the last time my table looked this nice," Courtney remarked as she walked up to Alicia.
The blonde replied with a smile and once her hostess was close enough, a kiss as well. It was more than she would give just a friend, but less than she would give a lover. Evidently, she had taken Courtney's admonishment that they were just there to talk to heart.
Still, the conversation over wine and Madame Chow's best was hardly the sort heard around the table during Sunday dinner with the family. Sex dominated as a topic, with interesting aspects of each of their lives freely shared.